When in doubt…Breathe!

The below article was written by Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School. Check out more of their work here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/

Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response

Relaxation techniques such as breath control via deep breathing

Updated: March 18, 2016   Published: January, 2015

The term “fight or flight” is also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.

Health problems are one result. A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression. We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the relaxation response, through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply.

The benefits of deep breathing

Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.

For many of us, deep breathing seems unnatural. There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is considered attractive, so women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.

Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.

Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.

Practicing breath focus

Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.

First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).

Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of breath focus. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.

Ways to elicit the relaxation response

Several techniques can help you turn down your response to stress. Breath focus helps with nearly all of them:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga, tai chi, and Qi Gong
  • Repetitive prayer
  • Guided imagery

 

And yes, you can even find time to breathe on the job, in your car, on the train, in rehearsal or any other environment.  We can help you get there. Contact us now for a complimentary class for your organization!

Wellness@FullForceRepertory.com
347-620-6074

 

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Your Common Scents: Aromatherapy

Written by Athena from The Sage Goddess.

Aromatherapy is a popular form of alternative medicine or holistic healing. It is exactly as the name implies – the use of fragrance to remedy an ailment. While the term aromatherapy only dates back to the early 20th century, the practice of using plant extract as medicine comes from ancient Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures. Aromatherapy cannot cure the advanced stages of disease (although that can be debated), but rather, can work as an aid to relieve daily aches and pains, or as preventative medicine to deter serious illness.

An essential oil is an organic compound extracted from a botanical source through cold pressing or through a steam process. There are thousands of different essential oils – just about as many oils as there are plants on the earth. This botanical nectar can be extracted from leaves, tree bark, herbs, flowers, fruit peels, seeds, roots, or even a blade of grass. And each one serves a unique therapeutic purpose.

How to Use Essential Oils

Part of what makes aromatherapy so effective and popular is its versatility. This practice can take many forms, and is therefore suitable to almost any lifestyle. You can benefit from aromatherapy in any of the following ways:

  •      Add a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle full of filtered water. Spritz this mixture into any space as an air freshener, or onto any surface (clothes, sofa, carpet) to revitalize and freshen.
  •      Add a few drops to an unscented candle, just around the wick (only when extinguished). The candle will burn with the scent of the oil.
  •      Apply a few drops directly to the skin. This can be done to treat an ailment, such as a rash, bug bite, or small cut, or to place at designated pressure points, such as the temples and wrists. (Beware which oil you’re using, and that it is safe for direct skin contact. Some essential oils are too abrasive and must be cut with a carrier oil to be applied to the skin.)
  •      Add a few drops to water, tea, or even alcoholic beverages to add natural delicious flavor and reap the benefits of the plant medicine. (Only ingest essential oils if they are certified food grade and safe for ingesting.)
  •      Add a few drops to an oil diffuser to freshen the air in your home, office, car, or other space.
  •      Add a few drops to the bathtub to bathe in. This creates direct on-skin therapy, while also steaming the scent into the air.
  •      Place a drop or two on your pillowcase before bed to aid peaceful sleep.
  •      Place a few drops in a handkerchief to take with you on the go and breathe in whenever needed.
  •      Add the proper quantity to your own Ayurvedic products, like lotions, soaps, toothpaste, and perfumes.
  •      Use in potions and elixirs for ritual, ceremony, meditation, and other magical work. Many essential oil fragrances have been used to induce deeper meditation, and even astral travel, for centuries.

The Many Uses for Essential Oils

The uses for aromatherapy are practically endless. Today and across history, essential oils have been used as disinfectant (antibacterial/antiseptic); treatment for bug bites, eczema, acne, and other skin irritations; bug repellent; air freshener; an aid for deeper meditation, shamanic journey, and astral travel; adding flavor to water and other beverages (only food grade); relief of upset stomach, nausea, vertigo, and headaches; allergy relief; emotional energizer or calmer, libido booster, and stress reliever; treatment to increase circulation in the physical body; and much, much, much more.

 

essential-oils-and-the-brain

You can combine various complimentary essential oils to receive greater and wider benefit from your use. It is common to use pre-made blends (blended and sold as-is by the manufacturer) to target a certain overall illness or emotional block. For instance, a happiness blend might contain a combination of lively citrus oils and floral oils to elevate your mood. A breathing blend might contain eucalyptus, peppermint, and melaleuca. It is also possible to craft your own blends, and there are many essential oils texts and online sources where you can find recipes.

Check out the below chart for the benefits of certain oils:

aromatherapy-essential-oils-chart-1

 

Did you know that we offer aromatherapy consultations and wellness workshops here at Full Force? If you didn’t know, now you do! Contact us for more information and to get your healing on fleek…is that word still a thing?

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And we have lift off!

Welcome to Full Force Wellness & Dance Repertory!

Thanks so much for waiting for our arrival. We hope we didn’t keep you waiting for too long did we?

The new Full Force has enhanced its mission and programming for today’s world.
What is our mission you ask? Simply put…
Holistic Wellness. Dance Performance.
Although these two themes were always apart of our programming, it is made clear that this is now our focus. (Yay!)

Click here to see our new website. We guarantee it is much cooler and user friendly than our last one!

Also all of social media links have changed. Here are the updated links:
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And yes, even our WordPress blog link has changed:
https://fullforcerepertory.wordpress.com/

So keep up with us! There’s lots more of amazing things in the works…even ways you can join our team. So make sure to check back in with us often.

This is definitely the start continuation of an amazing journey!

Sending Love, Light & Peace,
-Lefty & King

Seriously, click here to see our enhanced site:
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